the toronto speaking tour


The Distillery District in the rain. Photo courtesy of Lisa Hawthornthwaite.

I had a whirlwind tour of Toronto hospitals, with four speaking engagements in three days.  The thing about multiple presentations?  You just can tackle them one at a time.  It helps to have thorough discussion with organizers about what they are looking for, an understanding of the audience, writing and re-writing speaking notes, and lots of timed rehearsals.

My highlights were:

1.  Participating in a storytelling panel at the Canadian Family Advisory Network Workshop with Bloom editor Louise Kinross and Dan Yashinsky.  Louise talked about narrative medicine, and the importance of clinicians telling their story.  As a professional storyteller, Dan shared his Talking You In project, which is a beautiful initiative that combines storytelling and music to honour parents and babies who have had an NICU experience.

2.  I was so thrilled to spend the day hosted by Kate Robson at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.  I spoke about the Art of Storytelling to their patient and family centred care champion group, and presented about Sharing the News:  Disclosing Diagnosis to their NICU staff and neonatologists.  I loved seeing Kate in action as the Family Coordinator in the NICU.  She has such positive energy and a listening presence.

3.  There was an awesome turn-out at my session at SickKids NICU, which was about the Art of Health Care:  Nurturing Relationships with Families.   The NICU has embraced peer support, and have recently hired a lovely Parent Liaison, Rita Visconti, who works with the families who have very sick babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

I’m like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz when I travel to Toronto:  Toto, I have a feeling I’m not in Kansas anymore.  This is one big city.  Connecting with all my old and new Toronto friends left me inspired and motivated – and hopeful that the hospital world is changing for the better for patients and families all across Canada.


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